Mali is a country in turmoil with its government in disarray and rebels having taken control over the north. The military took control of the government back in March, under the guise of defeating the rebels. presents its guide to the crisis in Mali.

Key Facts and Figures in the Crisis in Mali

Under talks brokered by the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), a civilian government was reinstated in April. However, just this week the military forced the resignation of the interim Prime Minister. This move has drawn the condemnation of the UN, which is also set to vote on sending multinational African troops to northern Mali. Here is a guide to key facts and figures in the crisis in Mali:

The ousted Prime Minister: Cheick Modibo Diarra

Cheick Modibo Diarra

Crisis in Maili: Former prime minister-Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned on Tuesday

On Tuesday, December 11th, Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned after being arrested the night before by the nation’s military. According to Al-Jazeera, Diarra was arrested by factions of the military that were responsible for the coup in Spring. However, interim President Dioncounda Traoré, and a spokesman for the military reject the notion of a coup, saying that the military “facilitated” the Prime Minister’s resignation, according to the BBC. The UN has condemned his arrest and resignation, and has threatened sanctions.

Mr. Diarra is a former NASA engineer, who also holds U.S. citizenship. He was arrested on Monday night, as he was getting ready to leave the country for a medical check up. His whereabouts are still unconfirmed.


Leader of the Spring Coup: Captain Amadou Sanogo

Captain Sanogo after the coup in March.

Captain Sanogo after the coup in March.

Claiming that the government was sending in ill-equipped troops to battle rebels in the north, Captain Amadou Sanogo led a coup in March, toppling the government of President Amadou Toumani Touré.  At the time, Captain Sanogo claimed no interest in political power, and relinquished power to a civilian government in April.

According to Al Jazeera, the troops who arrested Prime Minister Diarra on Monday night belonged to a small faction loyal to Captain Sanogo. After his arrest, according to witnesses, Mr. Diarra met with Mr. Sanogo in the nation’s capital, Bamako.

The Tuareg Rebels of the North: MNLA and the Islamists

Tuareg rebels have taken control of northern Mali

Tuareg rebels have taken control of northern Mali

Following the military coup in March, the National Movement of the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared independence from Mali, citing 50 years of bad governance and attempts to wipe out their nomadic Tuareg people. During the political turmoil in Bamako, the rebels were able to make significant gains–capturing the cities of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu in quick succession.

Along with the secular MNLA, other power brokers in the region include Islamists, who are more concerned with implementing strict Shariah law than forming an independent state. The relationship between these groups is unclear, though some of these groups–along with the interim government–had brokered a cease fire earlier this month, as reported by France 24, and Middle East Online.

Today, rebels control a section of northern Mali that is the size of France. Groups in the region include the secular MNLA, and the following Islamist groups: Ansar Dine, which is also composed of Tuareg nomads, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and  Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).

The Regional and International Response: ECOWAS, France, the U.S., and the U.N.

On December 5th, Mali went to the United Nation’s Security Council to ask for a deployment of troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). France, Mali’s former colonizer, backed this push for military intervention, fearing Islamist terrorist activities abroad. On Monday, France’s foreign minister announced that an U.N. resolution would be reached by December 25th; deployment of troops would not begin until August or September, however. The U.S. has been hesitant to intervene directly, citing the need to train Mali’s military and address political concerns that led to March’s military coup, and the recent ousting of Prime Minister Diarra.

Join the Discussion on the Crisis in Mali will be following the story of the crisis in Mali as updates occur. What are your thoughts? Are you in Mali or the region? Do you think ECOWAS ought to intervene militarily, or should parties sit down with rebels? Let us know in the comments section below.